Below is an update with links to the latest published advice (as of 25th February) covering general information and more sector specific detail for employers and businesses and educational settings.

Background

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of microorganisms that can cause illnesses in people which ranges from colds to more severe diseases such as SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (caused by SARS-CoV) and MERS - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome caused by (MERS-CoV).

Strains of the disease not previously seen in humans are termed novel coronaviruses (NCoV) and the current outbreak is being caused by one of these novel viruses that has been named COVID-19.

Illness usually results from close contact with an already infected person – coronaviruses are typically transmitted through respiratory droplets/contact with infected secretions and other body fluids. Due to the fact the COVID-19 remains a new disease our knowledge of it is improving but still developing.

New (novel) coronaviruses occur as a result of a virus “jumping” from one animal species to another and causing an infection that is then able to be passed on to other members of that new species.

Current outbreak

As of 25th February the World Health Organisation (WHO) were reporting global cases of COVID-19 to have reached 80,239 and caused the deaths of 2,700 people. While China remains the largest country affected 33 other countries have now had confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported. The WHO risk assessment for the outbreak globally is now “high”, although not yet a pandemic.

While only 13 people of the over 7,000 tested have been shown to have COVID-19, the risk in the UK remains at moderate.

COVID-19 updated guidance

Government departments in conjunction with Public Health England have issued a series of updates for organisations including ongoing travel and sector specific advice covering employers and businesses and educational settings.

This advice covers many of the specific questions we are currently being asked as well as some further information. The outbreak management both globally and in the UK remains dynamic however and you should review the information regularly. The links are:

1. COVID-19: General advice

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

2. COVID-19:Advice for employers and businesses

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19#what-to-do-if-a-member-of-staff-or-the-public-with-confirmed-covid-19-has-recently-been-in-your-workplace

3. COVID-19: Advice for educational settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19#how-to-clean-educational-establishments-where-there-were-children-students-or-staff-with-suspected-cases-of-covid-19

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance.  For more information, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us.

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